Mosque set ablaze in Brittany town of Quimper in western France

QUIMPER, France — Intruders set a mosque ablaze in this city in western France early Sunday and scrawled swastikas on the outside walls, officials said.

Firefighters called to the scene at 4:20 A.M. local time extinguished the blaze, said Philippe Paolantoni, deputy prefect of the region, in Brittany. The prosecutor’s office opened an investigation.

Damages to the mosque were modest despite four separate fires set inside the Penhars Mosque, one of two Muslim places of worship in Quimper.

A window was found open, apparently used to access the inside of the mosque, Paolantoni said, adding that a passerby alerted firefighters after seeing swastikas scrawled on the outside walls of the mosque and flames inside.

There are occasional reports of attacks on Muslim places of worship in France, as well as on Jewish synagogues, and authorities have increased surveillance

The attack on the Quimper mosque came as Muslims in France began celebrating Ramadan, the annual period of fasting.

Associated Press, 24 September 2006